mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli

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Book of the New Sun discussion thread.

So there have been some responses to my New Year, New Sun project. toughlad is in, & has sent the clarion call out from Kit Marlowe & Co.'s blog. Other people who at least expressed interest are pandrax, onatopofthings, wolvus, heatherica, fordmadoxfraud, ankledeepruins, suenoverde kathulhu77, realmcovet2, masui, inspectorxero, ravenface, kingtycoon, littlewashu, aslant, ranai, primroseport, kromelizard, glimmerkirk, stormbringer986 & Sherene & Edbury & Jenny & Nick Courage! Ideally, I want the meme to spread! Anyhow, Salmon Ravenface was asking what the deadlines were, where to discuss it-- I guess here? I don't want to set deadlines? Part of the fun of the internet is doing things at your own pace. Still, I want to encourage everyone to buckle down & actually read it. On top of that to actually talk about it, whether as a first time reader or an aficianado. I am taking my time, personally-- I think on my first read through, I was compelled to keep moving, to find out what happened next; now on this pass I can savor things a little more, I can spot things that foreshadow or straight up foretell later events. When I'm done I will sauce things up with a little New Sun lit crit, too.

A few things that have really struck me on this reading, in no particular order. I'm at page 159 of the Orb version of Shadow & Claw, for the record, at the start of Chapter XXVI "Sennet." One: I have a real fondness for Doctor Talos & Baldanders. They are a thing that really stays with me; Doctor Talos is a part of what Doctor Tophet (an Oubliette mascot) has become. Severian's first meeting with them is such an over the top homage to Moby Dick that I almost had to keep laughing out loud. I suppose Baldanders is Queequeg, but I wasn't sure; after all, it is Severian who lays his sword between them like a harpoon. Speaking of Terminus Est, I remember the first time I heard about Dungeons & Dragons' "mercurial great sword." How I hated it! Of course that was before I read Book of the New Sun; now it utterly appeals to me, at least given proper context. The Wikipedia article about Terminus Est is filled with such ridiculous original research: I should tag it as such-- there, done. Also; drowning is such a huge motif in Shadow of the Torturer; first in Gyoll then in the Lake of Birds. Each is coupled with a "Lady of the Lake," too-- I can't help but wonder if it is meant to prefigure Ushas & the Deluge.

Besides that, there are a few images, a few pieces of folk philosophy & hints into the "religion" of the Increate that really charm me, as a world builder. One I'm totally snaring for the Mother Church of Oubliette is the idea that light is the shadow cast by God. Oh, I like that. Or at the end of XVII,"The Challenge," when he goes off musing on Ymar the Almost Just & comes to the conclusion about the possession by a part of yourself. So good. I also find his description of Agia very compelling; the first time around I "didn't get it" but this time I'm trying to immerse myself in his experience; doing that has let me be a little more forgiving of Agia. Also; Agilus' second mask is never explained, is it? Speaking of moments I really like: whenever Severian gets all Vulcan neck pinch or dim mak on a guy.

I haven't resorted to the Lexicon Urthus yet, which I probably should be doing. The problem is that I get caught up! I can figure out what things mean from context clues! I do really wish I had a deeper insight into some of the diction. I just don't want to interrupt myself, & by the time I get to a stopping point, I forget. In XXI, "The Hut in the Jungle," there is tokoloshe, which I just looked up in wikipedia & to discover is Xhosian. I didn't realize the jungle was African-- I assumed it was just temporally displaced, to the same location as it physically is (around Buenos Aires? Or wherever Nessus is) just back in time. See? Useful. I just do so much reading on the train that throwing it in my bag isn't practical; I'd have to elbow for room every time. Maybe I'll try to start a word bank?
Tags: books, gene wolfe, new sun
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